You may have often noticed experienced wood workers routing freehanded on router tables. Routing using a guide-bearing and without a fence require some great technique and precision. If proper guidelines and precautions are taken, freehand routing without a fence can be rated as a safe procedure. But it requires appropriate precautions to be taken as the router spins at a very high speed and can throw bits of wood towards you or even cause you a cut. Being an expert in the wood working field we would recommend that you should use a safety guide pin (starter pin) whenever you decide to do freehand routing.
- The first tip and trick for freehand routing would be to use a 1/4″ rod or dowel which is made up of steel, hardwood or brass.
- The next step would involve drilling a hole of the similar size into your router table. The hole should be drilled at around 2″ from the bit. Make sure that the pin perfectly fits into the drilled hole and get projected directly above the work piece.
- Now push the work piece against the inserted pin.
The idea applied here is to use the pin as a support system or fulcrum so that you can carefully get the work piece to the spinning bit. This step in particular requires a great deal of focus and precision. Therefore, for an experienced wood worker it is a very easy task to do. But of a new comer or beginner it requires a lot of practice. So, the best way to practice is to try doing the above mentioned steps on a large sized piece of wood with a round over bit of approximately 1/4″. The large wood size would keep you safe and also allow you to master this skill. We use a larger wood because it would generate a lot of torque, therefore you will be able to feel the force required and become more precise while working with smaller wood pieces. Always be mindful to keep your grip on work piece at some safe distance from the router bit to avoid any mishap.
Lastly, an important precaution measure can be taken by using a plastic shield to keep your fingers and hand safe and away from any danger. Make use of a screw to mount a plastic coating of polycarbonate or acrylic on a piece of wood which should slightly more thick than the work piece you have. The base wood should be made enough large so that it can clamped very easily to the router table. Now place the plastic overhead the router bit and then make sure to tighten the clamp well. The end result is that now your fingers will not touch the router bit from above and you could work safely without using a fence.